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Robert Kipniss: Paintings and Poetry, 1950-1964

Robert Kipniss: Paintings and Poetry, 1950-1964

Robert Kipniss

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This intriguing monograph of painter and printmaker Robert Kipniss is an intimate look at a memorable period in his life and career. Robert Kipniss: Paintings and Poetry, 1950-1964 is the result of many arduous months of revisiting his more-than-half-a-century-ago writing, poems that were stashed away and essentially forgotten. "Some of the poems are straightforward, some are infused with surreal irony, and some are angry," says Kipniss in his candid Preface. Thoughtful and articulate from conception to completion, his never-before published poems are choreographed with his early paintings in this contemplation of the influential and foundational years from 1950 to 1964. "When I stopped writing [in 1961] my vision was no longer divided between word-thinking and picture-thinking: these approaches had merged and in expressing myself I was more whole," reflects Kipniss in his retrospective musings.

Readers of this elegant volume are all the richer for catching a glimpse of a personal segment of this accomplished artist's history. Kipniss elaborates, "The most significant insight that arose in this undertaking... came when I began to collate reproductions of my paintings of the 1950s. I could clearly see that my work in the two mediums were from very differing parts of my psyche, and that while they were both in themselves completely engaged, they were not in any way together." This written and visual account of previously unpublished poems and early paintings, which were critically acclaimed, are accompanied by two astute and illustrative essays that further enlighten.

Robert Kipniss (born Brooklyn, New York, February 1, 1931) is an American painter and printmaker. His mature paintings, lithographs, mezzotints, and drypoints share stylistic characteristics and subject matter and typically depict trees seen close up or at varying distances in fields. Other works show one or more houses in a landscape or town setting. Some are interiors with a view toward a window or with a still life set close to one, frequently with a landscape beyond. No human figures are present, and all forms are reduced to essentials. The time is often dusk or nighttime. Kipniss' use of exceptionally subtle black and white tones or, less often, lightly toned hues creates an overall atmospheric effect. His works have been described as conveying solitude and inward experience. Kipniss often uses the subject matter of a painting in a lithograph or mezzotint, sometimes with variations. His paintings date from the early 1950s. His main body of prints are lithographs and mezzotints, the former dating from 1968 into 1990, the latter since 1990.

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